More blunders found in exams as boards act to help candidates

 

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The Independent Online

The final tally of blunders in this year's GCSE, AS and A-level exams has risen to 12, watchdog Ofqual said yesterday.

Student leaders said the level of errors identified were "unprecedented".

University vice-chancellors added that they were "concerned" about the possible impact the blunders could have on applicants.

However, the five exam boards which acknowledged errors were praised by the watchdog for the steps they have taken to avoid disadvantaging candidates.

Ofqual will, however, be conducting a further inquiry to determine how the errors occurred.

The blunders included a GCSE Latin paper set by the Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Art Examinations Board which gave the wrong names of characters in a question about text – referring to Pythius not Canius in one and Tacitus not Cicero in another.

The Welsh Joint Education Committee admitted an error in an enlarged format A-level maths paper for visually impaired candidates.

Actions taken by the boards include awarding two per cent extra marks to candidates taking a GCSE chemistry exam set by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance where students were upset by the error or spent too long on an affected question.

In most cases, though, the students were either awarded full marks for the question regardless of their answer – or it was removed from the marks and the overall tally adjusted upwards so they were still given a percentage mark.

Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, said: "We are satisfied that everything that could be done has been done to make sure that, as far as possible, candidates have not been unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged."

A statement from the five exam boards said: "We deeply regret that these errors occurred. Our individual investigations into the errors are ongoing and we will share the lessons learnt."

Toni Pearce, vice-president of the National Union of Students, said: "The errors identified in exam papers this year were completely unacceptable but the exam boards and Ofqual have listened to our concerns and taken them seriously. The measures that have been put in place should ensure no victim of them is unfairly disadvantaged and we will be monitoring the situation to ensure that is the case."

Universities have had their attention drawn to the errors to help them in their assessment of applicants.

However, a spokeswoman for Universities UK, the body which represents vice-chancellors, said it was "concerned" to hear about AS and A-level errors and "the possible impact that this may have on university applicants".

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